Content Marketing Blog

Google could soon use TV as a ranking signal

As if Google’s Hummingbird algorithm wasn’t complicated enough, Google could soon be adding a new signal into the mix.

Yesterday Google was granted a patent for using television as search ranking signal, which could mean a few changes for content marketing.

The patent, which was originally filed over three years ago, is officially titled “System and method for enhancing user search results by determining a television program currently being displayed in proximity to an electronic device”.

To put it simply, Google has figured out a way of listening to what you’re watching on TV and incorporating it into search results. The patent could help protect its discovery.

Google already uses hundreds of different signals, many of which are personalised, such as your geographic location, search history, and connections on Google+.

The search engine’s virtual personal assistant for iOS and Android devices, Google Now, already has the ability to listen and detect what shows you’re watching and automatically provides additional information about these programmes, so it is clear Google would have no problem pulling this off.

The patent was first picked up on by the president of popular search blog SEO by the Sea, Bill Slawski, who briefly summed up how the ranking would work.

Google generates a set of categories from the search query, and another set of categories associated with the TV shows airing, and combines the two together.

As an example, Slawski said if you were to searched for “Porsche” when a TV program was airing in your area related the car, Google would assume you were watching the same show, and were either interested in that model or that show.

Google could then show the Porsche website that features the model, or information about the TV programme airing at the moment, or other programmes similar to the show you’re watching.

However, just because Google went through with the patent doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to apply it as a signal.

Google’s Head of Search and Spam, Matt Cutts, pointed out in a Google Webmasters video blog last year that the company often applies for patents for items that never come into fruition.

Posted by Dylan Brown

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